UK doctor's family visit Beirut mortuary

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionFatima and Afroze Khan talk about their anger at the death of Abbas

The mother of a British doctor who died in a Syrian prison has visited a mortuary in Beirut where her son's body was taken by the International Red Cross.

Fatima Khan said "they killed my baby" on leaving the mortuary where the body of her 32-year-old son Abbas was taken.

The family denies Syrian government claims that Mr Khan took his own life.

Mr Khan's body will be flown to London from Beirut on Sunday morning, and the family told the BBC they have arranged for it to be taken to a coroner.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said its Counter Terrorism Command was providing family liaison support and would "seek to assist the coroner when appropriate".

Mr Khan, from Streatham, south London, was arrested in Syria 48 hours after arriving in the country last November.

An orthopaedic surgeon who worked at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) in Stanmore, north-west London, he had entered the country on a humanitarian mission without a visa.

He had been moved by the plight of refugees and worked in refugee camps in Turkey, his family said.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Office said that the doctor had been "in effect murdered" by the Syrian authorities and at best his death was "extremely suspicious".

In an emotional interview, Mrs Khan told the BBC she was "surprised" that the Syrian regime "cannot differentiate between a humanitarian aid worker and a terrorist".

"It was his profession to give life not to take life. He can't kill an ant even," she said.

Her son had only been treating women and children, she added.

Image caption Members of the Red Cross brought Abbas Khan's body to Beirut

Mrs Khan was interviewed alongside her son Afroze.

Afroze said the five days they had to wait for the body to be transferred from Syria added "to the devastation of the family".

"We were promised that today would be the day that he would be released in a press conference in Damascus, but today we are receiving a dead body."

He said there was a lot of anger towards people "who said they would help and did not".

"The Foreign Office's approach from the beginning has been one of procrastination, ineptitude and generally disregard for my brother's welfare," he said.

"Sure, they were in constant contact with us but nothing they did has any effect on the ground."

The Foreign Office said it did not comment on repatriation of British nationals.

Image caption Mr Khan was arrested 48 hours after arriving in Syria last November

Mrs Khan travelled to Damascus to track her son down and contacted the British and Syrian governments, as well as the Russian and Syrian embassies in an effort to have him released.

He had been moved from a prison in Damascus to the National Security Agency's headquarters and was due to be released this week - but died on Monday.

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said he had committed suicide, a claim Mrs Khan says she denies "110%".

"I was so happy I was going to get my son," she said.

"How can they kill such a handsome, healthy doctor?"

Mr Khan was one of seven brothers and sisters and is survived by his wife Hanna, his seven-year-old son Abdullah and daughter Ruqquaya, aged six.

More on this story